Prime Cuts: Crown of Heaven (featuring Natalie Grant), Holy Ground (featuring Kari Jobe), Age to Age (Featuring Mia Fieldes)
Overall Grade: 2.5/5
There is a problem Nashville-based church The Belonging Co will never run into. They will never be without a worship leader to lead worship on any given Sunday. The Belonging Co is the hub for worship leaders. This is the church where Kari Jobe, Natalie Grant, Danny Gokey, Sarah Reeves, Andrew Holt, Mia Fieldes, Cody Carnes, Hope Darst and many others call home. With so many talent artists all worshipping in the same church, it only makes sense that the church would release their own collective record, with the vocals and songwriting task being parcelled out to its long line of recording artists.
"See the Light (Live)" is their third full-length album and the follow-up to 2019's "Awe + Wonder (Live)." And like their predecessor, this new record of 17 songs clocking in at 2 hours and 3 minutes, is choke full of future worship classics. "Turn Your Eyes," which features Natalie Grant on the front microphone, finds its hook in the hymn of a similar title "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." If you love those thundering anthemic ballads of Kari Jobe, you will love "Holy Ground."
Hope Darst, who dropped her own solo album last year, sounds so passionate on "Where would I Be" that it's a challenge not to worship along with her. Cody Carnes revives his hit from last year "Christ Be magnified," albeit with lots of ad libs extending the song to an almost 10-minute affair. Mia Fieldes, formerly of Hillsong Church and now a prolific CCM songwriter, surfaces as the lead vocal on "Age to Age." Though she does not have a booming voice like Hope Darst and Natalie Grant, she shows lots of promise.
But there are three major lines of weaknesses that run through the entire record. First, all the songs share the same sonic template: they all start off slow and spacey. Then the percussion comes in and hijacks the song to its soaring chorus. This leads into an elaborated bridge where there are lots of long holding notes. It is fine if three or four songs on a record follow a similar blueprint, but 17 songs? Wouldn't you say it's one too many?
Second, most of the featured worship leaders are tried and true recording artists. Why are they not allowed to shine with their own uniqueness? Why does Danny Gokey have to sing like Hope Darst where he has to scream off the song's bridge? Would Gokey sing the same song the same way if he were making his own solo record? Mia Fieldes has such a sweet and tender voice with shades of vulnerability. She would sound gorgeous on a more acoustic sounding track. Why does she have to sing a turbo-charged anthem so out of her league?
Third, though all the songs are doctrinally sound and God-centered, the lyrics border on the side of the superficial. Here are just a couple of examples: "Jesus, over everything/He reigns forevermore/Our song for all eternity/Jesus Christ is Lord.""Find me in the flood, find me in the living water/Death is overcome, we're full of resurrection power/Can you feel it now, this holy rush of perfect love/Can you feel it now, feel it crashing down on us." What on earth has happened to poetry? What about the Bible and unearthing fresh ways of communicating the Gospel? What about writing from the heart rather than from what is the first thought that pops into one's head?